Behavioral or STAR Job Interview Questions: Are You Ready?

Woman talking to a young person at a career fair.Are you ready to answer “behavioral” type questions on your next job interview? Also known as targeted selection, situational, or STAR questions (STAR will be explained later), these types of questions are now very common.  They may be popular, but they are also quite different from the typical questions you might expect to hear.  First, the interviewer asks you to recall a real, past situation involving certain conduct or behaviors.  You then share the details of that experience.  The idea here is that your past behavior will serve as a predictor of your future behavior.

Examples of such questions might include:

  • Describe a time which you had to handle an angry customer; what happened and what was the outcome?
  • Describe a time when you worked with someone who came from very different cultural background than yourself.

It is natural to be nervous during an interview, making it difficult to quickly recall such situations. This is especially true when trying to think of experiences which you would be willing to share!  Therefore, giving some forethought to these types of questions will help greatly.  No, you don’t want your responses to sound overly rehearsed.  However, thinking about such questions and situations in advance can give you some ideas upon which to draw. Continue reading

Government Employment as a Career Path?

The U.S. Capitol building.Every time you turn on the TV news it seems as though the government is in chaos.  Fighting between and within political parties.  Campaign mudslinging.  Scandals involving leaders and staffers at all levels.  Wow! No wonder the thought of working for the government probably doesn’t enter most individual’s minds when they consider career options!

That’s too bad.  Having worked a few years in government myself, I know there are many great opportunities in almost every career field imaginable.  Also, working as a “civil servant” can be a personally rewarding and fulfilling experience.  It provides an important way to honorably serve your local city, county, state, or even the nation.  True, government pay scales may not always equal those found in the private sector.  However, they’re not too shabby either, especially if you advance to a senior level or management position.

Some people also feel government work may provide more stable employment than many non-government jobs.  I believe this is true if you are not in a temporary, grant-funded position. In a private sector company, employment levels may shrink or grow suddenly.  This might occur simply because of last quarter’s sales figures or the gain or loss of an important contract.  Thus, for many jobs, government work is perhaps more stable because “sales” and “profits” are non-issues.  Plus, the government needs workers in order to provide essential services and perform tasks mandated by law.

Who Does the Government Hire?

If you think the government doesn’t hire people in your trade or profession, think again.  You might not even realize that government agencies hire doctors, dentists, lawyers, engineers, accountants, and nurses. Also, plumbers, electricians, welders, mechanics, teachers, computer programmers, purchasing agents, writers, communications specialists, analysts, and photographers.  Don’t forget chemists, artists, social workers, law enforcement officers, and that just scratches the surface.  I have many more examples, but there are simply too many to list here!

Could you really get a job with the government?  It could turn out that you may have a bit of an “in” when it comes to landing a government job.  For example, the Federal Government has programs which assist or provide a hiring preference for certain groups.  Such groups include veterans, military spouses, individuals with disabilities, Native Americans, and others.  Check out usajobs.gov for a wealth of information about finding and applying for positions with the United States government.  Some state and local governmental entities also have similar programs for which you may qualify.

In addition to Federal jobs, don’t forget your local city, county, and state governments also need qualified people!  Be sure to check their websites for job openings and instructions on how to apply for open positions. Continue reading